Rewilding means allowing nature to restore and recover and, where needed, giving a helping hand. This can be through reintroducing species of flora or fauna that may have disappeared from that ecosystem and restoring balance once more. It can occur on a broad spectrum from fairly simple agroforestry, where local trees and shrubs are added to farmland both to slow or halt soil erosion or provide shade for livestock and also to serve as habitat for local wildlife such as squirrels and birds, to complete cessation of human land use in favour of either active introduction or more passive facilitation of the return of local flora and fauna. Rewilding can even encompass ‘wild’ spaces in urban areas in acknowledgement of some species’ great adaptability to human presence.
Rewilding is about small- and large-scale green spaces that will ultimately benefit both humans and wildlife and even help with carbon sequestration, air purification, temperature control etc. both in urban and rural settings and from minute to colossal scale. Nature based solutions, such as restorative agriculture, can also offer communities that have been lost, due to rural depopulation and farmland degradation, the chance to recover and benefit from the revival whether through generating tourism income or simply making an area more liveable for both humans, livestock and wildlife. These are key solutions to our future on this planet which requires us to learn to live alongside and in harmony with nature.
These are key solutions to our future on this planet.
Whole Wild World has recently been shortlisted for a funding application by the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) in the Wild Places category which went to a public vote on the 15th of October which is set to end on the 29th of October. The winning project in each the three categories will be awarded up to 30 000 euros of funding. This amount would help to set up the local species conservation projects to protect and preserve native Iberian species, including the iconic Iberian lynx. The project will also facilitate the reintroduction of an endangered native breed of horse, the Sorraia.
There are already resident groups of Eurasian otter, beech martens and evidence of wild boar roaming the banks of the stunning Foupana River that runs through the land, a tributary of the Guadiana River.
The revival of the native Montado cork oak habitat and ecosystem will provide a haven for native wildlife, alongside a restorative agricultural approach that the team hope will inspire local farming communities to adopt. The area has undergone an extensive planting programme supported by local government for mediterranean pine agroforestry. These fast-growing trees have been used to help prevent or mitigate soil erosion and alongside other native tree species they can also provide habitat, and foraging and hunting grounds for native wildlife.
A European rabbit breed and release program will also benefit the site by providing essential food for the Iberian lynx that have been released near to the land as part of the Portuguese breeding programme.
Just 400 km away from Gibraltar, and a popular destination for many local residents, the site is the same size as Gibraltar’s Nature Reserve. There are long-term plans to expand the site and to encourage local landowners to follow suit and rewild their lands too as well as to set up similar projects elsewhere in Portugal, Spain and beyond by drawing on lessons, relationships and experiences from our foundation project.
These 210 hectares feature traditional Portuguese village accommodation and nature safari trails into the rewilding site, offering a fully holistic nature retreat and a chance to experience off-grid living in comfort. This accommodation is expected to be available for bookings from February 2022. As a side dish there is also an old mining complex on the site where copper was mined for many generations which gives insight into our growing dependence on technological facilitators for land use and how the ground beneath us and the world around us shaped our history and social and evolutionary path.
The whole site bears testament to our dependence on our surroundings as well as our – at times disastrous – disregard for all but the resources that are of most obvious benefit. By restoring both the cultural heritage and the ecosystem we hope to showcase our past, good and bad, as well as demonstrating how even today our high-tech inclinations can, with a little effort and rethinking, be compatible with healthy and thriving wild spaces rather than allowing apathy to demand an ever-expanding occupancy and destruction of wilderness.
The project is currently seeking public and corporate support for the nature and conservation projects, information on the projects can be found at www.wholewildworld.org. The charity has also initiated contact with universities in the Algarve that already work with some of the mentioned species and hope to forge a working relationship with them to provide opportunities for local students.
Last month Gibraltar schools and Individuals took park in a ‘Walk for the Wild’ where participants could log their daily step count on a Strava leader board. St Paul’s First School took the opportunity for a whole school sponsored walk around town, holding placards with environmental messages they had made, raising funds for the wild.
This month on Sunday the 7th of November they are hosting a ‘Climb for the Wild’ 24-hour bouldering marathon taking part in the new King’s Bastion bouldering gym and later at the Northern Defences.
To get involved or to sponsor this event, contact the WWW Team at [email protected]